Homegrown tomatoes really do taste like tomatoes. In contrast to the vast majority of tomatoes on the market, which are picked when they are still unripe and are supposed to ripen further on the way to sale. Tomatoes belong to the climacteric, after-ripening fruits, but after-ripening of a fruit that has already been harvested always causes a loss of aroma. That’s why it’s worth growing your own tomatoes. That’s why we like to grow tomatoes ourselves, although the climate in Germany isn’t exactly ideal for tomatoes. You can change that with a tomato house.
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The advantages of a tomato house
Tomatoes thrive much better in a tomato house in our climate. In addition, you may be able to prevent a fungal attack with tomato brown rot, which is omnipresent in many regions of Germany.
Tomatoes need a lot of warmth to thrive. They don’t want to get too much rain either. This is ensured by a tomato house, which does not necessarily have to be a large greenhouse made of glass. A fairly simple “housing” is enough for the tomatoes, which protects them from moisture and cold.
Below is a suggestion for a (after the second reading) quite simple building instructions for a simple, not too big tomato house.
Simple instructions for building a tomato house
A tomato house that fits into a home garden does not need and must not be overly huge. Also not because you certainly don’t want to start a sales outlet for tomatoes from your own garden, but just want to enrich your menu with some really tasty tomatoes. A few tomato plants are enough for this. From each one you can, with a vine tomato z. B., expect between 2 and 3 kg harvest.
For this tomato house, you use “ready-made components” as the floor construction, which are very inexpensive to obtain.
- standardized Euro pallets, made from dry, unstressed spruce wood
- always the same dimensions of 1.20 x 0.80 x 14.4 cm
- You can get Euro pallets from freight forwarders, through classifieds markets or directly from a pallet dealer
Two of these pallets make a great base plate for your tomato house. They are simply placed next to each other on the floor with the continuous boards facing upwards and screwed together. They then result in a floor area of 1.60 x 1.20 meters.
Now you need a piece of solid, non-toxic foil, e.g. B. a piece of pond liner that protrudes your bottom surface by 20 cm on each side. It should therefore be at least 2.00 x 1.60 meters in size. This foil is placed on the floor surface with an even overhang on the sides. Then screw two more Euro pallets together, which you now place the wrong way around, with the continuous planks down, on the first floor surface. Both surfaces can be screwed together through the corners.
Now place two so-called wooden frames on the top two pallets, which are lying upside down. They are 20 cm high and sit on the pallets like two frames. They can also be obtained from the sources mentioned above and now cost 6.50 euros each. The overhang of the film is folded up on the side and attached to the pallets with a stapler. You can fold the corners in such a way that the pallets, which are open at the top, are surrounded by a tight foil cover on the sides.
Now build the frame from squared timber, which is placed in these two boxes and will later carry the “glazing”. In principle, a cuboid with the dimensions of almost 1.60 x almost 1.20 on the bottom and top. The left and right sides are almost 1.20 x the height of the tomato house, the front and back are almost 1.60 x the height of the tomato house.
Let’s assume that the planks of the wooden frame are 2 cm thick and the cuboid placed on top is to be 1.70 m high (the floor area is already almost 30 cm above the ground). So you would then build two frames of 1.56 (due to subtracting the board thickness of the wooden collar) x 1.70 and connect them at each corner with a total of four timbers, giving the cuboid a depth of 1.16 m. These 4 connecting timbers have a length of 1.16 m minus the thickness of the squared timber, i.e. 96 cm for squared timber 10 x 10 cm.
However, since you have placed two wooden frames on the floor, you cannot place the cuboid in the middle on the floor. Here the two middle boards of the wooden stacking frame stretch from the front to the back across the floor. The easiest way to solve this problem is to cut a gap (groove) of 4 cm exactly in the middle of the front and rear squared timber at the bottom of the frame. Then you can slide it there over the boards of the wooden collar. You can use the 4 cm board thickness of the two abutting boards of the wooden stacking frame to insert a small squared timber at the front and back to stabilize the squared timber that runs over a length of 1.56 m at the top.
The two wooden frames and the “foil box” underneath are now filled with insulating material. Either loose insulation materials, over which you then fit a cover plate, or firmer and fairly waterproof XPS insulation boards, which you cut to size with a hand saw and put in several layers on top of each other. The cover can simply serve optical purposes here and otherwise be rather light, e.g. B. consist of a piece of jute overhanging on the sides.
Since the floor insulation only starts above a “little bit of air space” formed by the bottom two pallets, it is hanging freely in the air, so to speak. This is deliberate and has advantages:
- Insulation quickly takes on the air temperature
- is not cooled down again by the ice-cold ground
- Insulation material does not have to be sealed against moisture very carefully
- Moisture can dry away quickly
When the basic structure of the house is in place, the tomato house must of course be covered. The real purpose of this growth aid is that the tomatoes can enjoy more sun and warmth.
The traditional covering of a greenhouse is glass. If you have very good craft skills, you can of course equip your tomato house with glass walls or insert a row of old windows.
Today, however, one mostly works with transparent plastic sheets, e.g. B. acrylic glass, or plastic films, both of which can be applied much easier. You can use a plastic film e.g. B. Fasten them to your frames quite quickly by attaching them to the inside, either with a staple gun or with a hammer and roofing nails. For acrylic glass you would have to use e.g. B. Attach sliding door rails, which you can get in various designs at hardware stores.
With transparent plastic panels, it is important that you ask about the translucency of the material when you buy it. There are some differences here. There are also various new developments in plastic sheets and plastic films, e.g. B. coated versions that are very durable and very good translucency at the same time.
Glass, plastic plate and plastic film aim for the same effect. Thanks to the greenhouse effect, they increase the average temperature in the tomato house and protect the tomatoes from rain and strong winds.
However, it is important that each panel is attached in such a way that you can ventilate your tomato house with a flick of the wrist. Depending on the cladding material used, it makes sense to design a pane that can be opened or slid open, or just let part of the film hang over one another so that it can simply be folded away.
Accessories for the tomato house
You can then add a lot of accessories to your tomato house. From small automatic ventilation to heaters. You will find many attractive offers here in the trade. Technology freaks and passionate inventors can continue to build the tomato house in this way for a long time until it is a year-round greenhouse with its own sprinkler system.
If you just want to make sure your tomatoes can ripen well in our short season, you don’t need much more than a way to air out the tomato house. In the heat of the summer, a small fan should find its place.
The cultivation areas for the tomatoes
Inside, your tomato house still needs fixtures that will hold the pots with the tomatoes. A wide variety of prefabricated built-in solutions are offered here, with which you can quickly bring in cultivation areas for the plants in a greenhouse. These are either table constructions or some kind of shelf solution or any kind of hanging construction.
Of course, the imaginative do-it-yourselfer equips his tomato house himself, with self-made tables or shelves to match the pots for the tomato variety he plans to grow.
Optimize yield in the tomato house
The “classic tomato plant” is a so-called stick tomato. They do quite a bit of work. They have to be pinched out and tied up several times because they would hardly bear tomatoes if they were simply allowed to grow as they please. Rather, you have to keep them at a large distance from each other, otherwise fungi will quickly colonize them. In addition, you have to train the stick tomato to a very specific growth habit. If you put a lot of effort into this tomato plant, your reward will be tomatoes the size of a tennis ball. But then the climate in the tomato house has to be perfect every day so that these tomatoes can ripen here.
Vine tomatoes are easier to cultivate. They are also less sensitive and are less likely to be attacked by fungi such as brown blight and late blight. You can also let vine tomatoes grow as they develop themselves without having to constantly pinch any shoots. They grow into small bushes bearing quite a few, but small, tomatoes. These will not reach the total weight of a stick tomato harvest per plant, but the smaller fruits will all be able to reach good maturity. And you can accommodate more tomato plants in the tomato house by using so-called grow bags, which are now also available to fill and hang up yourself. You could e.g. B. attach a metal grid under the ceiling frame and hang one grow bag next to the other, just so, that the individual plants do not touch each other. Then the risk of a fungal infection is quite low. Incidentally, the vine tomatoes are also more aromatic than the large fruits of the stick tomatoes.
A tomato house helps you to harvest delicious, fully ripe tomatoes even in our rather unfriendly climate. The tomato house built using the instructions above will not strain your DIY skills, wallet, or schedule. If you fill your tomato house with vine tomatoes, you can get a good harvest in a fairly small area.